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Friday, August 08, 2014

Bad Movie Month cleans up after Species 2

Welcome once again to Bad Movie Month's look at Sorry Sequels, those film follow-ups that never quite measure up. Today's creature feature is Species 2, which hit theaters at least three years after the original Species film did in 1995.

Granted, Species wasn't a major league film but it did have a pretty decent cast(Ben Kingsley,Alfred Molina and Forrest Whitaker) and director Roger Donaldson at the helm. By the time the second film rolled around,however, the budget and style of the previous movie had clearly gone from high end to bargain basement.

Species 2 takes place a couple of years after the first one and focuses on a successful mission to Mars. The astronaut who stepped on the surface,Patrick Ross(Justin Lazard) is an all-American type, complete with powerful political daddy(James Cromwell).

 While everyone is thrilled about the space trip going off without a hitch(except for a mysterious seven minute blackout period), it turns out that Patrick had a close encounter of the worst kind. Sort sounds like that new summer show Extant, doesn't it, folks? Except for all of the gore and patchwork science that would make Bill Nye's head explode.

Seems that a dose of dormant alien DNA in the soil sample that he took "woke up" during the flight back home and oozed out to latch onto Patrick, transforming him into a sex machine that instantly impregnates women during coitus, causing the gals to drop dead as soon as they give birth to little boys. Patrick is at first freaked out by this and even tries to kill himself but to no avail, so he gets on board with the whole "I must breed" program:

 Meanwhile, Dr. Laura Baker(Marg Helgenberger,reviving her role from the previous film) has Eve, a clone of the original Species girl Sil, in her lab, where she performs tests on her "just in case" that particular race of space travelers comes back to Earth.

Since the way they originally arrived was via a transmitted formula that  our scientists just had to try out, wouldn't it have been smarter to throw that batch away? Then again, this was the same brain trust that thought creating a female would make it more "docile and easier to control."

Laura claims to be doing this in the most humane way possible but her idea of humane involves strapping Eve stark naked into a chair and blasting her with poison gas in order to show the military how well she heals from it-very nice, considering that a similar event traumatized the first Sil there! Anyhow, Eve appears to have some sort of mind meld with Patrick as she gets visibly aroused every time he's off making sexy time.

That connection is increased as the folks in charge start to realize that there's another sex starved space alien on the loose and Eve's dormant abilities are given a boost in order to track down Patrick.

You really start to feel sorry for Nastasha Henstridge here, who played Sil in the first movie and returns to a similar role that is a far lesser version of the original character. In that story, Sil was understandably terrified by the authorities and as she grew up quickly, relying on her innate alien instincts made sense but not without some hesitation on her part.

Eve, on the other hand, is a bland blank slate with her only functions being horny for Patrick and wanting to break out of her cell in order to mate with him. Yes, she does watch a lot of TV(at one point, it's mentioned that she learned to drive from The Dukes of Hazzard) and lets out a mournful sigh at her captive life but it's a token gesture at characterization at best.

Patrick does compliment her in vanilla pudding performance, as his lackluster chemistry with most everyone on screen makes a Ken doll look more realistic. Even the attempts at involving his dad into this sloppy state of affairs doesn't offer much to making Patrick somewhat interesting or worthy of our viewing time:

What also suffers in this sequel are the special effects, which are watered down renditions of the H.G. Giger designs for the alien invaders. Top that with some bad CGI and you have a mediocre mess on your hands and pretty much everywhere else.

You know a movie's bad when even one of it's co-stars(Michael Madsen, also reviving a previous role) is not afraid to call it crap. Mind you, he used the more profane term but still, willing to admit that this was a complete and utter cinema catastrophe. His performance is akin to the zombies in the Walking Dead(as are most of his films these days) but I have to give him credit for honesty on this one.

 It's a shame, since there is promise in the premise but instead you're left with unanswered questions such as "If the astronauts were supposed to be under a sex quarantine, why weren't they kept away from the public better?" and "Where did Patrick find all of those grimy undershirts to clothe his hybrid space children in before hiding them on the family farm?"

 Perhaps strangest one of all is "How did a cat get into the ambulance with Eve at the end of the movie?" While there were a plenthora of things that made no sense in this flick, that last one was a doozy, except maybe this one- "Why did alien Patrick look like a weird skeleton dog monster?":

One good thing came from the arrival of Species 2; this was the last film in this series to be released theatrically. The other two chapters to this slimy saga went direct to video and there was even a graphic novel adaptation of the story that was probably better written than this was.

Yes, I did see this when it first came out and was sorely disappointed. The original Species is still worth a look, in my opinion, but even if you're in the mood for less than serious sci-fi suspense, Species 2 should be avoided like the plague.

Tune in next time on Bad Movie Month, where we drop in on Conan the Destroyer, and as for Eve and Patrick, that is one love story that someone should have to say sorry for(Madsen's admission of guilt is close enough, I suppose):

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